Major UK fleet operators are already queuing up to put Nissan's first clean-air delivery van to the test.
But the avalanche of requests to trial the pacesetting e-NV200 is posing a headache for the Japanese firm's British subsidiary, Fleet Van can reveal.
More than 150 companies operating fleets of over 150 vehicles have asked Nissan GB for sample models in the wake of an eight-month British Gas evaluation programme involving 28 pre-production examples of the all-electric compact LCV.
“The evaluation was an unqualified success and it resulted in an order for 100 units from a company that's known to have high operating standards and only spends its money on vehicles that make financial sense.
“But what has followed has landed us with a problem. Some of the gas engineers asked if they could keep their vans for a longer period, so we're having to really prioritise how we allocate demonstrators because we have only 30 units available at the moment.
“Obviously, we're going to need more vans but it will take us a while to satisfy this level of demand,” said national corporate sales manager David Hanna.
As the model was being previewed in Spain, he predicted that corporate customers with fleets of more than 75 units would account for three quarters of the 1,000 registrations expected in the next 12 months.
“Our aim is to be segment leader, but as only one factory is the global source of this vehicle, I think lack of supply is likely to be an issue for the UK market,” he said.
Claimed to be a groundbreaker, the van is available from £13,393 in entry-level Acenta form and comes with running costs of two pence per mile – dramatically less than the 7ppm for the 1.5-litre dCi version. Added to lower servicing and maintenance charges and VED exemption, the savings add up to £5,500 over four years for operators outside London.
"Taking the congestion charge exemption into account, the potential savings for businesses in the capital add up to another potential bonus of £10,600. We believe running cost benefits of this order have the potential to transform business models.
“Electric vehicles are getting more popular and becoming increasingly relevant for business. We think they are the future,” said product manager Paul O'Neill.
Now on sale, the e-NV200 gets its drivetrain from the Nissan Leaf. Its battery pack makes it 220kg heavier than the diesel version, but it is a lively performer that's quicker to the benchmark 62mph rate. With underfloor batteries providing a low centre of gravity, it also has good handling and is a delight to drive.
Progress is silent and smooth and the Nissan is well suited to urban life and it made light work of a series of 'drops' for our test through the bustling streets of Barcelona. Twin sliding doors give good side access, loading height is lowest in class and payload – 20kg greater than the diesel - is generous.
Equipment is good with a rear view camera, power door mirrors and power windows on all versions but specification is lavish on the Tekna Rapid Plus, which boasts an on-board fast charging facility, cruise control, air conditioning, tyre pressure monitoring and a navigation system allowing remote control of route planning, charging and interior temperature settings.